Washington, with a new coach and a new look after the departure of stars Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor, wanted nothing more than to open the Pac-12 season with an upset of a ranked team.
And for the first 17 minutes, the Huskies looked to be in prime position to do just that on Friday night against No. 17 Oregon State.
But the Beavers overcame an 11-point deficit and led by as many as 20 before opening conference play with a 75-63 win over the Huskies in Gill Coliseum.
It was the second time this season the Beavers (10-2) had trailed by double figures. They were down 12 at Duke before getting within a basket, only to fall 72-65.
Senior center Marie Gulich said the Beavers grew from that game and used what they learned from it on Friday.
“Against Duke I think we rushed a lot of things, we were down and we we’re, I’m not saying inexperienced but we had never been in that situation where we were down that much and we had to play for every possession and get the stop every possession,” said Gulich, who had 24 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocked shots against the Huskies.
“Just being in that position against Washington I think it just helped us to be more calm to know what we have to do, to take care of the ball to get a stop and to score. Just being calm I think helped us a lot.”
That lesson helped the Beavers start conference play with a win for the fourth straight season. They will look to make it 2-0 on Sunday when they host Washington State at 11 a.m.
The Cougars (7-6, 0-1) are coming off an 89-56 loss at No. 10 Oregon on Friday afternoon. WSU was outscored 40-15 in the first and fourth quarters.
The Beavers overcame the early deficit Friday and 18 turnovers, which led to 17 Washington points. The Huskies liked to press and trap often.
Despite the number of turnovers, coach Scott Rueck was pleased with the way his two new points guards — sophomore Mikayla Pivec and freshman Aleah Goodman — got better as the game went on.
“We’ve got two basically rookie point guards out there in their first Pac-12 game,” Rueck said. “You’re playing against a team that has nothing to lose coming in and will pressure you like crazy and that’s their scheme and they’re good at it. And it’s 40 minutes of it. There’s no way to really recreate that other than to be in it.”
Rueck said there were a couple times the Beavers didn’t recognize when the Huskies changed their defense, which led to some miscommunications in the first half. OUS had 11 of the turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
“We had several lost possessions where we ... just weren’t on the same page,” Rueck said. “In the second half, you saw Mik just settle in and really make good decisions and Aleah just settle in and understand where the pressure was coming from and I thought just as a team we adapted better against it. …
“This was a great experience moving on and I’m thankful for it. I’m really happy with the poise and composure we played with and I thought we improved as the game went on.”